Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
With the celebration of the birth of St. John the Baptist, the Church remembers the great forerunner of the Messiah. John is the voice crying out in the wilderness, preparing the way for the Savior of the world. We are familiar with his story and his mission. John baptizes with a baptism of repentance and calls people to be ready for the coming of Jesus. In all that he does, John points people to Jesus and prepares them to receive the Gospel. He gives all his energy and eventually his very life in witness to Christ.
The mission of John the Baptist to prepare the way for Jesus is a mission that continues in the Church today. We are called to prepare the hearts of all people to receive Jesus. We carry out this mission in a variety of ways. St. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 12 that we are one body in Christ, though the gifts of the Holy Spirit are given in different ways. Some are called to preach, some are called to give of themselves in service, some are called to bring healing, etc. In all of this, we see that every disciple of Jesus is called to allow their faith to influence and inform every aspect of their lives. Our Catholic faith then is not something to be kept bottled up and hidden, but shared. We are meant to bear witness to our faith not only in private, but even in public.
When we express our faith publicly, we may run into opposition. We will be told to keep faith and public life (or politics) strictly separate, or to keep our faith to ourselves. But we need to remember that sharing our faith is not the same as forcing our faith on others. It is actually a measure of our integrity that our faith permeates both our private and public lives. To be a disciple of Jesus means to be a disciple in every moment. Our Catholic faith ought never be siloed in only one part of our lives. There is nothing wrong with letting our faith-based convictions inform how we ought to act, even if that means standing against the prevailing culture, contradicting our preferred political party’s agenda, or even disagreeing (civilly!) with people we care for. In fact, an integrated life of faith demands this. John the Baptist is a reminder to us of our responsibility to allow our faith in God to be integrated in our lives and to influence all our actions.
This week, our Life Teen high school youth ministry will be putting their faith in action at Catholic Heart Workcamp in Groton, MA. Their volunteer service will be with the poor and elderly. It is one way in which our young people are able to bear witness to their faith in public. Through their work, through their kindness, and through their enthusiastic generosity, our teens prepare the way for Christ to come into the lives and hearts of the people they serve. Please pray for them this week as they bear witness to the Catholic faith!